Taking their seats in-person in city hall Thursday night, the Palm Pprings City Council grappled with the massive issue of economic development and what the city's broader goals are for diversification.
The city's stake in the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, or CVEP, was up in the air with a vote being taken on continuing to fund the organization.
While some city leaders said the money could be allocated on economic development differently, council voted in favor of reducing its annual membership contribution while continuing to fund CVEP's innovation hub accelerator campus, or iHub.
City contributions to CVEP from across the valley are vastly different. Some cities pay the minimum of $10,000. Some cities don't partake. Palm Springs was the highest contributor at a total of $325,000 per year.
But without seeing proof of CVEP's results or benefits directly to Palm Springs residents or businesses, the council cut its membership contribution from $125,000 per year to $37,500 for the next 6 months, after which they said they would re-evaluate.
The council approved its full contribution of $200,000 for the iHub campus for the next year.
City leaders said they wanted to ensure they were paying their fair share compared to the rest of the region.
"Seems off to me, as far as its return on investment amounts," said council member Geoff Kors.
"To throw money, this kind of money, at a program that has no results or outcomes... is not doing the job," said council member Dennis Woods.
"When I look at the funding, it is not the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, it is the Palm Springs and Palm Desert economic partnership," said Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton. "That's not sustainable."
"I know that this city council knows what they are talking about and I think they'll see that continuing this funding is the right thing to do," said Laura James, CVEP vice president of innovation.
City council is also discussing hiring an internal position for economic development.